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Launched .. Celebrating the official launch of the National Bowel Screening Programme at the Southern DHB are bowel screening programme manager Emma Bell and clinical leader Dr Jason Hill. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES

Residents are invited to hear more about the new national bowel screening programme.

Southern District Health Board national bowel screening programme clinical lead Dr Jason Hill will speak after the Grey Power Eastern Southland annual meeting next Wednesday, May 23.

Grey Power president Evan Currie said the public was invited to hear Dr Hill speak after the annual meeting at 2.30pm.

From the end of April more than 50,000 residents in Otago and Southland aged 60 to 74 became eligible to take part in the free programme.

The aim of the programme is to save lives by detecting pre-cancerous polyps, or finding bowel cancer early, when it can often be treated successfully.

Those eligible for the programme will receive an invitation letter, home testing kit and consent form in the mail.

The test detects minute traces of blood in a sample of faeces.

This can be an early warning sign for bowel cancer.

Dr Hill said there was keen anticipation among the wider health community regarding the programme.

“Southern has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country and New Zealand has some of the highest rates in the world,” Dr Hill said.

“We estimate over 100 cases of bowel cancer will be detected during the first two years of the programme, many of which will be in the early stages when it is easier to treat,” he said.

Mr Currie said Grey Power members believed the issue was extremely important and encouraged the community to attend the meeting.

“Early detection makes a difference,” Mr Currie said.

“Getting on to it early means it can be treated.”

Statistics


Bowel cancer kills as many people as breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Each year 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1200 die from it.

Bowel cancer is more common in people aged over 60 and affects more men than women.

Symptoms may include a change in normal pattern of going to the toilet that continues for several weeks and blood in bowel motions.

Although those symptoms are usually caused by other conditions, it is important to have them checked by a doctor.

Deterioration of bowel health and bowel cancer is not a necessary part of ageing, and people can reduce risks of developing bowel cancer by eating a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables and fibre, regular exercise and not smoking. Health Board